I’ve always found money to be a relative kind of thing. So when one of the questions is ‘did you run out of money’, the answer is more like we ran out of money we were willing to put into this project, against the benefit we thought it would create. But it did cost more than we bargained for, and we did run out, in the sense that there was rarely enough left for the villa after other priorities had been met. So why did that happen?
This might take more than one blog post.
Let’s start with our initial budget. We ludicrously underestimated the cost, getting caught up in the dream and not doing enough thorough research. We were really ignorant at the beginning. We got a ballpark estimate from a geometra who resided in a different city – one that was arranged by the realtor. It was actually not too far off the truth, but we didn’t believe it would actually be so high, as nothing was itemized and he said he made it big so we could get a mortgage that would pay for the construction.
Advice: Use a local geometra, one who knows the contractors in the area. Ask the butcher, the bar owner, various locals who they would recommend. Don’t use the one your realtor gives you; it’s not that they’re unscrupulous, but they are in the business of selling you the house, so you can’t expect objectivity.
Pay the neighbourhood-endorsed geometra to assess the house and get a real contractor’s itemized budget. At this point you still won’t have plans, so the estimate will not be precise in the details, but the buckets will be established. You’ll know whether the entire roof has to actually be replaced right down to every beam (yes), whether there is asbestos in there that requires an expensive hazmat team to remove (yes), whether every window is likely to crumble to dust when you try to remove them for replastering the holes in which they reside (yes).
Then add 30% and see how excited you still are to buy the house.
Nothing puts a damper on dreams faster than seeing the bill. But if it’s really important to you, you’ll figure out a way to pay for it. James W. Frick said Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.
That’ll be lesson number two: prioritizing and budgeting.